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Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2001

'Enduring Freedom' says it all without any offense

The name of a military operation is hardly the most important consideration faced by top brass, even if that name is bound to appear in historical accounts. ...

Still, careful thought goes into the process. The nicknames are generated in part from a computer database that randomly generates words that mean little by themselves. But the ultimate choice is made far up the chain of command, by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense.

It's a safe bet that they want a name that will resonate not only in the future but ... now. That means finding a name that's dignified and inspiring and that conveys the right message.

And in the case of America's campaign against terrorism, it also means finding a name that's sensitive to the world's cultural and religious differences.

Sensitivity might seem like a strange criteria for a military nickname, but when Muslim scholars objected to the name, Infinite Justice, saying that only Allah can accomplish something infinite, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was quick to jettison the name.

He was right to do so. The United States needs the support and cooperation of many nations if it is to achieve its goal of eliminating international terrorism. That includes countries whose citizens and leaders are Muslim.

Offending devout Muslims among our allies, especially for a mere nickname, would be an arrogant, foolish move for the United States. One that we can ill afford to make.

The new name, Enduring Freedom, has a fine ring to it -- without hitting any sour notes.

-- The Times-Picayune, New Orleans

Oct. 1

Sensitivity can go too far

Recently programming directors at radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications ... received a list of songs the company ''suggested'' they refrain from playing in light of the terrorist attacks.

Only an idiot would have played some of the 150 songs on the list, those that obviously refer to violence and terrorist-like activity. ...

But ''On Broadway'' by the Drifters? ''New York, New York'' by Frank Sinatra? ...

It seems the titles were the key placement; forget what the song is actually about, or even its words.

For even words that many have found comforting recently, in fact, a song that has become an anthem for firefighters and other rescue personnel, was on the list: ''Bridge Over Troubled Water,'' by Simon and Garfunkel. ...

We all want to be sensitive and attuned to not making light of any of the recent happenings and there are certain songs that anyone with an ounce of taste wouldn't play on the air. ...

But how far does sensitivity go before it becomes so extreme it is a parody of itself and no one takes it seriously anymore?

-- Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail

Sept. 27

Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail, on suggested music not to play:

Recently programming directors at radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications ... received a list of songs the company ''suggested'' they refrain from playing in light of the terrorist attacks.

Only an idiot would have played some of the 150 songs on the list, those that obviously refer to violence and terrorist-like activity. ...

But ''On Broadway'' by the Drifters? ''New York, New York'' by Frank Sinatra? ...

It seems the titles were the key placement; forget what the song is actually about, or even its words.

For even words that many have found comforting recently, in fact, a song that has become an anthem for firefighters and other rescue personnel, was on the list: ''Bridge Over Troubled Water,'' by Simon and Garfunkel. ...

We all want to be sensitive and attuned to not making light of any of the recent happenings and there are certain songs that anyone with an ounce of taste wouldn't play on the air. ...

But how far does sensitivity go before it becomes so extreme it is a parody of itself and no one takes it seriously anymore?

Oct. 1

Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, on railroads as national asset:

America's much-maligned national rail network, Amtrak, is finally getting some respect from Congress and the traveling public. Unfortunately, it took a national tragedy and the threatened collapse of the airline industry to drive home the message that rail travel is an essential component of the nation's transportation triad: trains, planes and automobiles.

Amtrak, which before the attacks carried about 22.5 million passengers a year on 22,600 miles of track, says its ridership nationwide jumped 17 percent during the six days after the attacks.

... Now Congress is considering measures to increase the government's parsimonious funding for Amtrak -- $521 million for this year.

Although the figures are not directly comparable, Congress allocated $33 billion for highways and $12 billion for aviation, and that was before the $15 billion bailout of aviation.

Some lawmakers also want to repeal a 1997 law, the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act, which requires the rail network to end its reliance on federal operating subsidies by 2003 or face liquidation. ...

... Sept. 11 brought a renewed debate about the need for a viable national rail network, whether it makes money or not. Amtrak already was proving that trains are an attractive alternative to planes in densely populated areas, such as the heavily congested Washington-Boston Northeast Corridor and between San Diego and Los Angeles. And rail travel makes sense environmentally. In the Northeast Corridor alone, Amtrak says, annual ridership between New York and Washington is the equivalent of 7,500 fully booked Boeing 757s or 10,000 fully booked DC-9s.



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